The Labour Council asked me to fill out this survey and based on it they endorsed candidates for Regional Council. Based on my answers they decided not to endorse me. Not sure what their reasons were but I suspect that my unwillingness to make broad commitments to hire only from unions and consider to bring all services back in house to the region were leading reasons. In general I am a supporter of unions and want to ensure that workers receive a fair share but when it comes to my duties as a Regional Councillor my first duty is to the residents of Niagara and I cannot make broad assertions and promises without knowing the impact on the budget and on our residents. I look forward to working with the Labour Council to make Niagara a better place.
Niagara Regional Labour Council Survey
The labour movement is proud to be an active participant in the upcoming 2018 municipal and regional elections. Union members and their families live work and play in Niagara’s communities. Therefore, municipal issues concern us all and we share a desire to elect good people who will work to build vibrant and sustainable communities.
Candidate Profile for Mayor or Municipal/Regional Councillor or Regional Chair
Application for endorsement Date: August 12, 2018
Name: Rob DePetris
Political Office for which you are running: Regional Councillor
Please complete the following questionnaire, using a separate sheet if necessary. Please include a brief bio with your response.
1. Have you been a candidate in a previous municipal, regional, provincial or federal election? N
If so, please give details:
2. Have you volunteered in an election campaign? Y If so, in what capacity?
I helped Walter Sendzik in his mayoral race in 2014 and am helping him in the current one.
3. Describe your volunteer work and/or positions you have held in any community organizations.
I would invite you to see my website www.voterobdepetris.ca
a) BRING HONESTY, INTEGRITY AND COMMON SENSE BACK
I promise that if elected, every action I make will be done for the benefit of those who I serve and not myself. Every decision I make will be well thought out, supported by reason and facts which I will convey in a transparent way to all my constituents. I will use my accounting, legal and analytical skills to try to make the best decision for Niagara.
b) FOCUS ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
We need more jobs and economic prosperity in Niagara for everyone. I want a place where our kids have an opportunity to stay in Niagara. I believe the way to do this is to concentrate on ways to help those of us who are entrepreneurs and the 10,000+ businesses in Niagara.
c) increase affordable housing / reduce poverty
We have far too many people living in inadequate housing and often this is tied to poverty as well. In the long run if we can increase our prosperity, poverty and housing issues will be alleviated. But we cannot wait for the long run. We need to find new ways to encourage the building of more affordable housing.
d) lower property taxes
We need common sense to develop ideas to spur economic development and find solutions to alleviate housing and poverty concerns. And we need to be able to do this within an affordable budget so that we do not over burden our residents and businesses with high property taxes and other fees.
e) bring back professionalism / bring in term limits / remove party politics
Councillors have sat on council for years and let the Region become mediocre. If you cannot institute your ideas over 12 years, I think it is time to let someone else try. As well, it is time to elect independent councillors who have no hidden agenda. It is time to let the employees of the Region provide the advice and professionalism they are being paid for.
5. Would you favor your municipality and the Niagara region buying local, Canadian and union-made products and services? Y N
My answer on this is it depends. I believe that if all things are equal that we should endeavour to buy locally. And we should only buy from employers who treat their employees fairly, that does not necessarily mean that the employees need to be members of a union.
I note that we need to do right by the employees and organizations we buy from but we also need to be cognizant of the costs to the residents of Niagara. All factors need to be considered for all decisions. And facts and evidence for each decision need to be considered.
The questions below will help us get a clearer picture of where you stand on certain issues.
6. Contracting out of public services: Do you support contracting out public services? Y N
Support your answer.
Again this is not a yes or no answer. In general I believe we need the Region providing services that bring the highest quality and efficiency to our residents. That said I am not sure what one defines as “public services”. I will consider whatever is best for the residents of Niagara. Each service that is provided we need to review and analyze who is best to deliver the service and how do we ensure that the people providing the services are treated fairly but also the residents are considered in the equation as well.
7. Economic Development: What role do you see for the city/region around economic development, protecting and/or creating good jobs?
I think this is one of our most important jobs and the key to ensuring prosperity for all residents of Niagara. I believe in helping the businesses that are in Niagara making the next steps and adding quality jobs for residents. I am not looking to help employers make profits on the backs of employees but to provide support for businesses that provide quality jobs to our residents. I think this is done by supporting organizations such as Innovate Niagara, our educational institutions and employers who have stepped up and invested in good employment opportunities in Niagara. Only if we can add businesses to our property tax base can we find new revenue to fight poverty and provide better care for those in need in Niagara.
8. a) Do you think that it is appropriate, if elected to liaise with the Niagara Regional Labour Council on important community/regional matters? Y
I think the Niagara Regional Labour Council and other labour organizations are key members of what makes our community work well. I would always want to understand the Council’s position on issues to help inform me of the issues and provide me with guidance. That said, I believe in listening but I also believe in making rational decisions based on the evidence in front of me. In all decisions, I will take the evidence in front of me and make rational decisions. My decisions will be backed by this evidence and will be transparent. It will never place an ideology or a political party ahead of what is best for the residents in which I serve. It will be what I think is in the best interest of the residents of St. Catharines and of the Niagara Region.
b) If offered, would you accept an endorsement of the Niagara Regional Labour Council? Y N
I am not sure what that entails. I would be honoured if organizations support my belief in being transparent, removing political parties from the local decision, getting rid of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats and always making sure that decisions are based on fact and with the understanding of what is best for the residents on St. Catharines and Niagara. That said, I will not be subservient to any organization that requires me to sway from my commitment to do what I think is best for our residents. So if the Labour Council thinks this view is worry of endorsement then I welcome it.
Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey. It was most appreciated.
Completed surveys must be received by August 13, 2018
Over the campaign I get asked to fill out surveys by various groups. In the spirit of transparency and also so people know where I stand I am posting the surveys. The first one is from the Niagara Association of Realtors (which only 8 out of the 23 candidates filled out) . Please take a read and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.
2018 Ontario Municipal Election St. Catharines Candidates Survey
Provided to you by the Niagara Association of REALTORS® with the support of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce
The Niagara Association of REALTORS®, with the support of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, is
conducting a survey of all candidates running for office in the Monday, October 22, 2018 election. As a candidate
we are providing the opportunity to complete this survey and ask that you return to us no later than Wednesday,
October 10, 2018 at noon to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your response will be included in a
summary of responses which will be emailed to all our 1,200 members and the 2,500 members of the Greater
Niagara Chamber of Commerce.
The survey is a PDF fillable document which should take no more than fifteen (15) minutes to complete. Please
take the time to be a part of this important survey. We thank you for your participation and look forward to your
Candidate’s Name: Rob DePetris
Municipality: St. Catharines
Ward (if applicable):
Position Running For: Regional Councillor
1. Affordability of housing for first time buyers and availability of housing alternatives for seniors is a problem
throughout Niagara Region; What specific initiatives or incentives would you endorse to address this
In the longterm we need to look at the income levels of renters (it is not increasing yet cost of
housing is). We need to lobby and pressure provincial and federal governments to raise
supports and consider basic income funding for lower income earners to be able to afford rents.
That however is not going to change overnight. I would propose that the region take its housing
action plan and actually budget specific dollars to it and put timelines to the actions promised. I
think we need to have inclusionary zoning policies to encourage developers to include a
percentage of affordable housing in all projects. As well, we need to work as a region to
incentivize (ie. meaning property tax credits, lower development fees and dollars) the private
sector to build affordable housing and to repair the housing we have now. We as a region do
not have the adequate resources to build enough affordable housing nor is this conducive to
building neighbourhoods. We must partner with the private sector and we need to ensure that
we can provide enough incentives to make it worth the private sector investing in affordable
housing. In addition, I think we need to continue to look at other root issues around
homelessness (mental health, poverty etc.). In reviewing the Niagara Regions policies to date,
we have a lot of plans and good intentions but there are not hard deadlines or reviews of how
the plans are doing. This needs to change now.
2. On behalf of commuters who use public transit, there is a need to link all of the communities of Niagara;
The creation of Transit Hubs so that municipal services can interact with each other would be an option.
What process would you support to forward this initiative?
I am supportive of the plans and actions of the current regional council to date. However, I
would think that the creation of transit hubs has to carry some financial viability test with it. By
this I mean, there must be enough demand to create the hubs. In the end, government loses
money on transit as a stand alone, so we need to budget what amount is acceptable. I note in
your first line you say that "there is a need to link all of the communities of Niagara". I agree with
this but would add within a certain budget. This could include private partnerships.
To move the initiative along, I would put hard dates to the plan with a completely costed budget
attached. I would also want to make sure that the residents of St. Catharines and other
municipalities are treated fairly based on services received and the infrastructure and funds they
have already invested.
3. The Provincial Government has discussed enabling regions to implement Regional Taxation – effectively
creating another tax burden on home buyers, such as the second land Transfer Tax in place in the GTA; if
introduced in Niagara Region what position would you take?
I would need to understand more before making a final decision. However, I think that the
residents of Niagara currently face high property taxes and adding additional burdens to these
would not make a great deal of sense. We do need to figure out ways to raise additional
revenues but perhaps it could be in other means such as a tax on tourism spending.
4. Every community in the Niagara Region is experiencing incremental growth which can result in conflict
between Progressive and Established philosophies; how would you reconcile the two polar-opposite
positions for the benefit of all?
I believe in growth that fits within communities and strengthens them. To that end there is a
balance between progressive and established philosophies. I would reconcile the approaches
by examining projects on their own merits and determining for each whether they would
enhance or be detrimental to a neighbourhood.
That said we need to have an overarching plan for the region as to where growth and
densification make sense. We need to get public input and ensure we live within the plans that
we communicate to the public.
In the end, both growth and protecting what makes Niagara the best place to live are critical
and no one philosophy will get us there. We need to compromise and work together to figure
5. Most candidates talk about working together, about replacing conflict with unity, and about making
governance more transparent and effective, to foster an environment where things get done for the
benefit of the constituents they serve; what role would you play in ensuring this happens?
I would do the following:
1. Commit to documenting and setting out my positions on each decision I make to the public
2. Not being party to any backroom deals but encourage my fellow councillors to vote based on
facts and reason.
3. I do not think we need unity but we need honesty, transparency and common sense. We will
not always agree but we need to understand each others' positions and try to work towards
compromise that produces win-win situations. This will not always be possible but will be my
goal and I hope my fellow councillors' goals.
4. I believe we need to leave party politics at the door. We need independent councillors who
make decisions based on their own review and analysis for the best of their constituents. This
does not get done by voting blocks, receiving orders from party bosses as to what is better for
the party. The only factor a regional councillor should be asking is what is best for the people I
5. I believe Councillors should stick to the Rotary motto Service above Self. Council should be
about getting things done and not about promoting individuals. To that end I support term limits
for regional councillors (either 2 or 3 terms - I leave that open to debate).
6. The legalization of Cannabis has created legislative challenges at all levels of government; does current
smoking by-law legislation suffice or do other initiatives need to be introduced and if so what do you
I would think that this is going to be an evolving process and that the current smoking by-laws
may not cover all the needs that will result with the legalization of Cannabis. For one thing
Cannabis is not ingested through smoking but their are edibles etc.
We need to consider land use regulations with respect to the cultivation, processing and sale of
Cannabis. Where should we allow or restrict commercial growth? What about the impact on the
demand for water and electricity for such crops? Need to consider odour emissions. Need to
restrict where retail outlets are. Consider such things as proximity to children, clustering of
cannabis businesses, retail signage when granting business permits.
For personal cultivation, need to consider odour issues, landlord tenant issues, condominium
rules, and other factors. We will need to regulate much of these issues with bylaws.
Also need to consider rules regarding public consumption. We will need to review where people
can partake in cannabis outside of their own homes.
We will have a lot of work to do to consult with the public and come up with common sense rules that promote people's right to use cannabis without infringing on the rights of others. In addition, we will have to figure out a way to enforce all of this and a way to pay for this additional burden of enforcement.
7. How do we handle the challenge of low income housing and homelessness in the city?
Much of my comments to the first question would apply to this question as well. That said we
need to lobby for adequate funding to provide assistance to all in Niagara and we need to
prioritize funding for poverty and mental health.
As mentioned above, we need to put timelines and specific resources (ie. money) to the
affordable action plan developed by the Niagara Region. We need to make this a priority.
As for homelessness, much of this has to do with poverty, mental illness and drug abuse. Each
of these are issues that intertwine with the other. So we need a coordinated approach with the
front line groups (Start me up Niagara, Community Care, RAFT, CAMH, Positive Living Niagara)
and come up with comprehensive plans. I note we have a lot of plans but unfortunately it is easy
to plan, but they need the funds and efforts behind them to become reality.
These funds will need to come from other areas. This is one of my top concerns and we need to
prioritize our resources to solve this problem.